We like to these sort of ‘Q&A” type things, where we check in with our SB Nation counterparts to get an idea of what we might be able to expect before games against certain opponents.
I sent Travis some questions about the the Flyers, and here, I’ll have his answers, followed by any commentary I may have on them.
Are the Flyers actually bad this year? Just kidding. Honestly, what can we expect from this team this year that might be different from the past?
Travis: They're on the right path. The team we saw down the stretch of the regular season last year was honestly one of the better teams in the league for those several months, even though we obviously knew they were flawed in some serious ways and that they aren't quite that good over the long term. But we're expecting this Flyers team to take the next step forward this year -- not quite compete with the Capitals and Penguins in the division, but they should be a solid No. 3 in the division. A full season of Shayne Gostisbehere, the addition of Ivan Provorov as a legit 20+ minute a night defenseman at age 19, the addition of a forward in Travis Konecny that might have more pure goal scoring skill than anybody else on the team ... there are lots of reasons to be excited about the Flyers, even if we all recognize that they prooooobably aren't going to win the Cup just yet. This team could certainly win a playoff round, though.
This is about right, I feel. The Flyers were a good team down the stretch last year and ran into the buzzsaw that was the 2015-16 Washington Capitals, in what was a much closer playoff series than most expected. It pains me to see the Flyers adding talent little-by-little, and making smart moves from within their front office.
On a scale of 1-10, how pleased with Dave Hakstol behind the bench are you and why?
Travis: We'll call it a 7. I take points off for some questionable roster decisions -- starting overtime the other night with Andrew MacDonald on the ice and Shayne Gostisbehere on the bench is worth at least two points by itself -- but I have high hopes for him here. He's far and away a better tactician than Craig Berube ever was, and he's proven that he's able to make adjustments to get the most out of the personnel he has at his disposal. Case in point would be the penalty kill. Go read about that here and give us a pageview. Western Pennsylvania pageviews are only worth 60 cents on the dollar but that's OK.
I don’t think it takes much skill to be a better tactician than Craig Berube, but noted nonetheless. I have given it a page view and it’s good content. My assessment on coaches is that you need to be one of two things: either a good planner, or a good adjuster. This isn’t to say that Hakstol isn’t a good gameplanner, because I haven’t watched enough to form my own opinion. But there’ something to be said regardless, of coaches who can adjust quickly on the fly when errors are recognized or system flaws are evident.
Through this first couple weeks of the season, what are your season-long expectations for the Flyers? Have they changed from what you expected before the season started?
Travis: I don't think they've changed. The team's gone through some early struggles, but they've also been handcuffed by suspensions and injuries and things like that. I think that once this team gets rolling -- once Hakstol can find a 12-man forward unit that rolls, once Michael Del Zotto replaces Andrew MacDonald, once they settle on a goalie -- they'll be in solid shape. The pieces are there and I don't have much doubt that they will come together.
Del Zotto for MacDonald is an unfair trade-off. One of these players are very bad and the other is much, much better. The solace that Penguins fans can take is that Radko Gudas will probably be suspended again, sooner than later.
Is Andrew MacDonald as bad as I see people saying he is? I haven’t watched the Flyers enough to know if they’re right or not.
Travis: If I use any more of my time on the Earth to write about Andrew MacDonald, I am going to cry. So I am just going to leave you with this Vine:
Who is your #1 Hockey Boy? This can be a current answer, or can be an all-time answer.
Travis: Eric Lindros is my Number 1 Hockey Boy. This is self-explanatory.
Real talk, I remember watching Lindros when I was a kid, and he was unreal. A real shame how things were cut short for his career.
Question 6: Bonus Question
If you were on death row and facing execution, what would your final meal be? (I’m gonna guess Bojangles.)
Travis: I am never going to die. Thanks.
God dammit, Travis. You are the first person to never answer my favorite question. I’m just going to assume that I was right again in my analysis on Bojangles.
Much thanks to Travis for this, though. It’s always fun to branch out with other SB Nation sites for these kind of things, when we can get some team analysis and have fun with it. You can find more on the Flyers-Pens coverage before tonights game over at Broad Street Hockey too.